Nicholas Watt (Guardian): If Barack Obama were dreaming up the ideal start to Mitt Romney’s first overseas visit as the presumptive Republican nominee, the president might wonder whether his rival could offend the US’s historic transatlantic ally.
That would obviously be rejected as impossibly ambitious, so the president might then ask himself whether Romney would fail to remember the name of one of his hosts in London.
Surely a successful businessman would never make such a basic error. So the president would wonder whether Romney would breach convention by saying in public that he met the head of MI6, Britain’s overseas intelligence agency.
To the undoubted joy of the White House, Romney stumbled on all those fronts in London on Thursday…
….. The comparisons with Romney’s trip to Europe and Obama’s visit at almost exactly the same stage in the electoral cycle four years ago are almost too embarrassing to mention. Obama wooed a quarter of a million people in Berlin while Romney was mocked by the British prime minister.
Daily Mail: Boris Johnson today issued an Olympics rallying cry in response to Mitt Romney’s dig over London’s appetite to host the 2012 Games.
The U.S. presidential hopeful, who is in the UK on a diplomatic visit, had doubted the British public’s passion for the Olympics in a television interview for U.S. network NBC.
Despite his backtracking today – saying that the Olympics would be ‘a wonderful 17 days’ – the man who could replace Barack Obama as the world’s most important leader found himself singled out as public enemy number one.
Speaking in front of 60,000 assembled in Hyde Park at a concert to mark the end of the Olympic Torch relay, the London Mayor tonight reaffirmed the city’s zeal for the event.
‘There are some people coming from around the world who don’t yet know if we are ready,’ the Mr Johnson roared. ‘There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!’
The Guardian: Mitt Romney handed Barack Obama a priceless gift for the US presidential election campaign when the presumptive Republican nominee blundered on his first diplomatic outing by questioning whether London was capable of staging a successful Olympic Games.
In a move that astonished Downing Street, hours before it laid on a special reception for Romney at No 10 he told NBC there were “disconcerting” signs about the preparations for the Games.
One senior Whitehall source said: “What a total shocker. We are speechless.”
David Cameron wasted no time in rebuking Romney hours after his remarks were broadcast. On a visit to the Olympic Park, the prime minister said: “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
Cameron’s remarks were intended to be a light-hearted jibe at Romney, who used his famous management skills honed at Bain Capital to rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
….. Earlier, Romney appeared to forget Ed Miliband’s name when they met at Westminster. “Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning,” Romney said to Miliband as they shook hands.
…. One meeting was held way from the cameras when Romney was briefed by Sir John Sawers, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. This prompted Romney’s third blunder of the day when Romney announced in Downing Street that he had met Sawers. Visiting dignitaries tend not to announce when they meet the head of MI6.
Lucy Jones (UK Telegraph): Mitt Romney is a wazzock
Who does Mitt Romney think he is? The Republican presidential nominee, has questioned Britain’s preparedness to host the London 2012 Olympics and asked whether the country is genuinely willing to “celebrate” the Games. He’s meeting David Cameron today after telling US television there were “disconcerting” signs about Britain’s readiness. That should be an interesting rendezvous. This rude discourse comes just after Romney’s advisors told this paper: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” whatever that means.
I couldn’t give a monkeys about the Olympics. It’s a pain in the butt as far as I’m concerned … But perhaps Mitt Romney’s diss will transform grimaces into patriotic support. Now I feel a glimmer of protectiveness and pride. Anyway, there’s one thing Romney could learn while he’s in Britain this week: some manners.
Telegraph: …. Not content with upsetting his British hosts, Mr Romney has now also managed to enrage the travelling American press corps, who pay tens of thousands of dollars to follow him around the globe. After his meeting with Ed Miliband, the Republican presidential challenger apparently took questions only from British reporters.
The gaffe-prone Mr Romney is so rarely made available to these media “embeds” on the trail that his campaign has been nicknamed the “Mittness Protection Programme”. So his decision to ignore them during one such “avail” went down predictably badly.
The NBC News First Read blog says: “Those of us that have travelled overseas and been involved in these VERY limited press avails have rarely seen heads of democracies TOTALLY ignore their own press corps but answer ANOTHER press corps’ questions”.
Vanity Fair: Mitt Romney’s disaster of a European vacation continues to implode. In an Olympic ceremony in Hyde Park this afternoon, London mayor Boris Johnson mocked Romney’s earlier gaffe—Disconcerting-gate—and Romney’s dumb name. “There’s guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!” Did Johnson make air quotes with his hands when he said “Mitt Romney”?
What else? “Romney appeared to forget [Labour Party head] Ed Miliband’s name when they met at Westminster. ‘Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning’ Romney said to Miliband as they shook hands.”’
O.K., what else? “One meeting was held [away] from the cameras when Romney was briefed by Sir John Sawers, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. This prompted Romney’s third blunder of the day when Romney announced in Downing Street that he had met Sawers. Visiting dignitaries tend not to announce when they meet the head of MI6.”
Anything else? People are using the hashtag #RomneyShambles to describe the events of the 24-hour trip.
Next up: Israel!
Meanwhile, back in the grown-ups’ world:
GOPolitico: Republicans trying to play down President Barack Obama’s decision to launch the raid that led to the death of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden are not getting much help from the military brass who oversaw the operation.
During a rare public interview on Wednesday, Adm. Bill McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations command, portrayed as bold and brave Obama’s decision to order the raid despite significant doubts about whether bin Laden was at the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.
“At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden of this operation, that made the hard decision,” McRaven said during an on-stage interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that served as the kickoff session of the Aspen Security Forum.
…. “The president of the United States is fantastic,” the admiral said. “I’m not a political guy. I’ve worked in both [administrations,] very much enjoyed working with President Bush and I very much enjoy working for President Obama. This isn’t about politics. This is about a Commander in Chief who I have the opportunity to engage with on a routine basis.”
…. “I’m not a political guy, but I’ll tell you as an interested observer of this, they were magnificent how they handled the start-to-finish,” McRaven said. “The president asked all the right questions…The president gave me ample time to prepare once the conversations were through.”
President Barack Obama signs the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Order in the Oval Office, July 26, 2012. Standing behind the President, from left, are: Patricia Coulter, CEO National Urban League of Philadelphia; Rep. Danny Davis, D- Ill.; Reverend Al Sharpton; Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP; Ingrid Saunders- Jones, Chair of the National Council of Negro Women; Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.; Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools; and Michael Lomax, President of the United Negro College Fund. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)